This post was written by my dear friend, Harriet the powerhouse behind Toby & Roo. If you’re not familiar with Harriet, firstly, where have you been? And secondly, change that right now. Not only is she a witty and powerful writer she’s a genuine person and wonderful friend who’s always just a few taps on the cracked screen of my iPhone away. Gush gush.
Anyway, today Harriet is sharing her thoughts on being a WAHM (Work at home mum) and dispelling a few myths. If you’re a WAHM i bet you’l be nodding along to this! If you’re not, spare a few minutes to read and get a bit of insight into what some of your friends or family could be up against.
“It’s so much easier for you, you get to go to all the school events, it’s not like you’ve got to ask for time off!”
I have lost track of how often this has been said to me. Words like “easy”, “relaxed”, “better” bandied around playgroups, school gates and for friends and family. Honestly, “easy” and “relaxed” are not words that I would ever use to describe being a work from home mum, or WAHM as we’re affectionately known.
It’s a common misconception that WAHMs are running little pyramid schemes that we tell ourselves are valid businesses and that we’re totes mom-preneurs and rock that pjs and laptop look like no ones business. Working for yourself, working from home – it’s all a walk in the park and something that sort of, kinda took over your “real” job when you went on mat leave and decided to pop a sprog or two out, sure, you’re not rolling in it and your partner is paying most of the bills but at least it gives you a bit of spending money and a sense of validation outside of pooey nappies and sour milk scents.
Wrong, so very wrong.
Here are 5 things that WAHMs wish you knew:
It’s NOT easy.
This isn’t some “ohmygawwddd my life is so hard” transcript – far from it. There are major benefits to being lucky enough to work from home. No judgemental eyes as you eat the entire office supply of jammie dodgers. No awkward coffee machine chats with Janice who made that complaint about your biscuit faux pas. No uncomfortable office wear, you want to rock out in your pants or comfy “lounge wear “ (yes, that’s code for pjs) then you go ahead. But it is NOT easy. There are still deadlines, still times of major stress and instead of a rational adult figure as a boss you have a small two foot tyrant who will resort to assault and most likely wants to hang off a nipple whilst you make a conference call. Have you ever had to interrupt a work call in the office because some one sh*t themselves and smeared it on the walls? I have. Ever had to interrupt your train of thought in the middle of a job to deal with a class A meltdown over the end credits of Peppa Pig? I have.
It’s not always “a bit of money on the side”.
Until recently, it was always assumed by our friends and family that “poor Adam” was carrying the slack now that I had “given up work” and that I was earning just a little bit to help us pay for the food. Or the treats. It’s not the case and it’s infuriatingly frustrating that there is an unspoken (and sometimes brazenly spoken) assumption that you aren’t reeeeally earning, and it isn’t a real job. Work is so much more fluid than it used to be, so much more flexible and we are working and earning money. It might not be the biggest income, but it might be a huge one. You will never know.
I’m not “always able to go to events”
I’m not always able to go to every school event, every preschool day trip… but guess what? When I can’t make it – it’s the worst and it IS worse than when you’re working for someone else or in a traditional set up. You know why? I have no one to blame. There is no “ahh, Jimmy was off at the same time and we can’t book more than 2 people off at once”. No, “my boss is a bitch, I just couldn’t get it off”… nope, it’s all on me. It’s simply a matter of “I’m sorry but I have too much on and a deadline on that day, or I have a meeting I have to go to and there is no way I can pass it on because, well, I work for me and I work alone.
Yes, it’s lonely.
Ever see someone waiving manically at their partner through the window when they arrive home or desperately talking like a loon to a friend they haven’t seen in ages… it’s because being a WAHM can be lonely. Really, really lonely. For the better part of the day you will have your phone, a small incoherent tyrant and possibly an animal to talk to. The TV won’t be a good source of outside humour anymore because it will be filled with obscenities like Bing and Paw patrol in a bid to entertain aforementioned tyrant. Everyone you were on mat leave with has now returned to the office and your oldest friends are still working pulling the 9-5pm… Yes, being a WAHM can be lonely.
We are working and it is a JOB.
Do not confuse me with the SAHM (or stay at home mum for those not down with the kids…). I am not a SAHM and whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it grinds my gears when people think I am a stay at home parent. I’m not. I’m working. Really, really hard… but unlike working parents who leave the house and get to interact with adults whilst they work, I’m trying to combine the life of the SAHM and the working mum into one rather difficult to manage lifestyle. It’s like trying to fit a square into a circle on a shape sorter at time and it’s draining – especially when it’s assumed you don’t do anything at all. No, I’m a working mum… I’m just doing it at home.